ra·​ga ˈrä-gə How to pronounce raga (audio)
: one of the ancient traditional melodic patterns or modes in Indian music
: an improvisation based on a traditional raga compare tala entry 1

Examples of raga in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Each raga has specific religious meanings in the Sikh scripture. Yannick Peterhans, USA TODAY, 8 Aug. 2023 What is a raga? Trudy Lieberman, Harper’s Magazine , 7 Dec. 2021 Onto the Voyagers’ golden record was placed music from every corner and pocket: a raga; a Pygmy song from Zaire; bagpipes from Azerbaijan — the works. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 20 Dec. 2021 Featuring other former members of John’s band, the resulting album combined free-form jazz with the textures of Indian raga and shades of Alice’s roots playing gospel in the churches of Detroit. Rolling Stone, 30 Nov. 2021 His playing drew on country, jazz, blues, surf-rock and raga; his compositions almost always set up a contrapuntal dialogue of guitars with distinct tones, colluding or contending. Jon Pareles, New York Times, 29 Jan. 2023 Widely considered one of the greatest guitarists in history, Mr. Beck shifted seamlessly between genres, recording albums that drew on hard rock, heavy metal, jazz fusion, blues, funk, electronic music and Indian raga. Brian Murphy, Washington Post, 11 Jan. 2023 The 11-minute score, inspired by classic Indian music, begins like a raga finding its tones and shortly explodes like an orchestral supernova in a wash of microtones before returning to its quiet origins. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 12 Aug. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'raga.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Sanskrit rāga, literally, color, tone; akin to Sanskrit rajyati it reddens, Greek rhezein to dye

First Known Use

1788, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of raga was in 1788

Dictionary Entries Near raga

Cite this Entry

“Raga.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/raga. Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

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